15 – Countdown

Hirun had spent two full days recovering from Buzz’s attack. Fortenra had stayed by his side through all of that period. Hirun tried to play it cool, but Askasa and Opal knew he’d come close to dying. Buzz’s attacks were slow to take hold. The injuries got worse long after the fight took place. Today, it was already noon and the smoke from the main city had not lessened in the slightest.

Fortenra and Hirun paid a visit to Insom, the zombie girl Fortenra had stumbled over the other day once Hikari was healed. Hirun told Fortenra that Insom could see everything that happened in the main city, and to understand what was going on, they should ask her instead of going to the city themselves.

The zombie put her hands on each of the boy’s foreheads and showed them all of what the phoenix had been through. Hirun was a bit impressed, while Fortenra was angry.

“This, this is exactly why I left her!” Fortenra proclaimed as they walked back to Hirun’s from the zombie’s overpass. “She only thinks of herself! She destroyed our apartment!” He let out a groan and held his head. “She misses me but she destroys all my stuff?!”

“Chill, Askasa,” Hirun smirked. “I think it’s endearing. Buzz and Ismaru killed the Heartlies because of her. Formed their own gang. So they’re out of my hair, finally. And Tali’s giving Dexterity the beating it deserves for treating its next generation like shit.”

“That’s not what I–” Fortenra tried to get in, a bit confused to Hirun’s choice of wording.

“Chill. Seems like all you ever think about is yourself these days. She saved you, you know. You abandoned us. Because you said you loved her. Do you not love her any more?” Hirun let out a sinister “heh” as if he’d won some sort of competition with his narrative.

It was partially true, as Fortenra did feel defeated at the remark. His shoulders slumped.

“I… I still love her, I guess. But I don’t want to. She’s selfish and shallow and never works or does anything for herself…”

Hirun playfully slapped Fortenra. “She’s working now!” He laughed.

Once they got back to the alleyway Hirun called home, they simply hung out and caught up with eachother’s lives. It seemed like things were going well and all was forgiven until the sun set.

“Listen,” Hirun said. “There’s this guy what comes around every night looking through the Music Store.”

“So?” Fortenra questioned.

“I don’t like him,” Hirun answered. “I want you to take care of him for me.”

Fortenra sat up from his place on a large concrete boulder. They had been sitting inside the fallen parking garage near the alleyway. “Why can’t you do it?” he asked, confused.

“Because I want to watch you do it,” Hirun shot back. “You said you’d pay me back. This is my favor.”

Hirun stood up, stretching his arms over his head. He tossed his cap onto a blanket with some other miscellaneous things and began to walk toward what was known as the Music Store. Fortenra reluctantly followed.

When they came to the familiar house, the guy Hirun had been talking about was already there, minding his own business.

Fortenra knew asking questions wasn’t going to work with Hirun. He had a sneaking suspicion Hikari only wanted him to do this just to see if he could still fight well.

“Hey!” He called to the stranger. “Hey, you! With the tail!”

The stranger stood up straight, slowly moving his glowing green gaze to Fortenra and Hirun, as if calculating. Hirun crossed his arms over his chest and stepped back as Fortenra stepped forward.

“This is Hikari territory,” Fortenra proclaimed. “You need to get out of here.”

Askasa was trying to play it cool, but really he just felt stupid. This guy wasn’t threatening anyone. He didn’t even have any ki.

Wait. No ki? Fortenra scowled. Now he knew why Hirun didn’t like this guy.

The stranger blinked once and went back to his search for CDs, unphased by Fortenra’s lousy intimidation tactics.

“Hey!” Askasa yelled. He was confused. No one had flat out ignored him before.

“If you don’t leave within ten seconds, he’s going to kill you,” Hirun stated matter-of-factly to the stranger.

The tailed guy proceeded to ignore him.

Five seconds passed, and Fortenra didn’t know what to do. He had, however, decided he didn’t like this dog-man either.

“Five,” Hirun started his countdown.


The stranger kept digging around the rubble.

Fortenra curled his hands into fists, looking to Hirun.


Hirun nodded to Fortenra, who ran toward the strange man.


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